In preparation for the 2014 season Arizona Softball, head coach Mike Candrea has added eight new transfers to the program. They have been quickly accepted into the softball family and are already experiencing success as the Cats finished 8-0 in their fall tournaments.
One of the new players to join the Wildcat family is shortstop Kellie Fox, a transfer from UCLA.
Fox is following in the footsteps of her sister, Kristie Fox, who won two National Championships with the Wildcats in 2006 and 2007.
“Playing where my sister played is an awesome feeling,” Fox said. “There is a banner with both of us on it and when you walk into the stadium it is nice knowing that the tradition I grew up with is still here. It’s awesome following in her footsteps.”
Fox will contribute many things to the team in 2014, most specifically base running and power hitting. She comes to the U of A already having hit 15 home runs and 18 doubles in her two years at UCLA.
“The program here is amazing,” Fox said, “The people, the talent, and the way that things are run here are just awesome. It’s so family-oriented. It is an amazing experience.”
Candrea is optimistic that this season will be a step in the right direction in restoring a powerhouse softball program.
“I’ve been very pleased with the new transfers,” Candrea said, “We recruited them with the purpose of coming in here and helping this program out immediately and I think they’ve all done a really nice job. We still have some room to improve, but things are good.”
Pitcher Estela Piñon, who had the team’s best ERA last year, has taken notice of some of the other less- obvious benefits of having so many transfers on the team.
“I like it a lot because everyone is competing for their positions,” Piñon said. “Last year we only had 16 girls and this year we have 24. It is a big difference to have so many girls competing, that is for sure. “
Piñon, a transfer from Yavapai Community College, will play her final season with the Wildcats this year. The increased competition among teammates has Piñon working towards improvement.
“I want to perform better than I did last year,” Piñon said. “I struggled too much last year. My goal is to come out stronger.”
Because she is a senior, Piñon knows what is needed to be part of a successful team. She can relate her own experiences to what some of the younger players are going through.
“I think that our communication as a team has improved.” Piñon said. “We are more like a family. I feel like we help each other out so much. We have a lot of older girls who help out the younger players and I think that is benefitting us a lot.”
Candrea has also taken notice of the team’s unity and how quickly they have accepted the transfers into their ranks.
“They are very good teammates with good work ethics and attitudes,” Candrea said. “They have all the intangibles and the rest of the game is just execution, so I look forward to good things. We hope that they (transfers) have a very good impact. That’s what we need. These are the type of kids that have the database to play at this level. They are competitive people and good players.”
The fall season is a crucial time period for the Wildcats. Only a couple of months remain until they will be playing their first games. The fall season helps the team find an identity and mold into the true team that they will be during the regular season.
“I think you find a lot out about teams in the fall,” Candrea said, “Very seldom do you have a bad fall and a good spring. Spring kind of follows what you do in the fall, and I think this team has come in here with a great purpose, great mindset, very good intensity and they are getting better.
The family-oriented Wildcats softball team is optimistic that this season will be a good one. With their new additions, great work ethic, and team unity, it will be hard to argue.
“I think individually and as a team we have improved a lot,” Candrea said. “If we can continue to do that for the next few months we can have a good year.”